He Who Hesitates Is Lost: The Top Five NHL Trade Deadline Deals of 2010
Many times at the NHL trade deadline, fortune favors the bold. The bold general managers, who are willing to pay the price to try to upgrade their rosters before a playoff push. Some trades are blockbusters but others are only minor depth moves.
Either trade can have a major impact on a team. It doesn't take a big star to make a difference.
In all, there were 31 total trades made on TD-Day, or March 3. Each team involved has now had some time to sit back and observe how well they did in acquiring new players or collecting draft picks for the future. So here are the five best trades at the deadline, with a respective grade and impact meter for the receiving team.
5. Washington acquires Scott Walker from Carolina
Price: Absolutely nothing. OK, it was a seventh-round pick in 2010.
Hardly the sexiest pickup at the trade deadline, Walker has been a healthy scratch three times in eight games since arriving in Washington.
But the gritty winger brings an attitude the Capitals need once the playoffs come around. A player who will punch you in the face, then score against you, as the Bruins found out in the Eastern semifinals last year, he can provide offense from a fourth line without needing big minutes.
He paid immediate dividends in D.C., scoring twice in his debut against the Lightning. For Bruce Boudreau however, his true value will be his leadership when the going gets tough, hopefully deep in the playoffs for the Red Rockers.
Grade: B+. Low risk, high reward, as Walker provides leadership, grit and physicality, three things that the Caps could use some more of.
4. Phoenix acquires Wojtek Wolski from Colorado
Price: C Peter Mueller and C Kevin Porter.
The price wasn't cheap to bring Wolski to the Valley of the Sun. Talented sniper Peter Mueller and the 2008 Hobey Baker recipient Porter were sent in return, but the price was worth paying for a team needing to qualify for the playoffs. Mueller was not extremely happy playing in Phoenix and needed a change of scenery.
But there's no question the impact he has already had and will continue to have as the Coyotes push for the postseason. Since Wolski was acquired from Colorado, the 'Yotes haven't lost a game and though his individual performance has been a little inconsistent, he has had a very positive impact on his new club.
With two goals and three assists in seven games, the Polish winger has already broken his career high for points in a season with a helper for Lee Stempniak in a 4-3 victory over the Florida Panthers.
Grade: B. The Coyotes certainly had to give in order to receive Wolski, but this time the price was right and he should continue to have an outstanding season.
3. Pittsburgh acquires Alexei Ponikarovsky from Toronto
Price: LW Luca Caputi and D Martin Skoula.
There was much speculation at the deadline that Penguins GM Ray Shero wanted to add a scoring winger to play on one of the top lines, and he ended up pulling the trigger the night before to get the Ukraine Train.
While he had to give up one of the best prospects in the system, Ponikarovsky had instant chemistry with fellow Russian-speaking forwards Ruslan Fedotenko and Evgeni Malkin. He scored a power-play goal in his first game against Dallas after acquiring a work permit.
The big winger has been a welcome addition since then, contributing on the scoreboard and in the physical department down low.
Grade: A-. Ponikarovsky has fit in perfectly with Malkin since Day One and should only look to improve as more chemistry is developed. He has also helped out the power play, scoring twice on the man advantage.
2. Phoenix acquires Lee Stempniak from Toronto
Price: D Matt Jones, fourth-round pick in 2010, and a seventh-round pick in 2010.
Coming at a moderate price, Stempniak couldn't wait to get out of Toronto. The Leafs fans surely felt the same way. For a man that was brought in to score goals, Stempniak tallied 13 times on the season and simply didn't have the impact the Leafs needed him to.
So Brian Burke was thrilled to get some draft picks in exchange. But the real winners were the Coyotes. Willing to take a chance on a player that was not playing good hockey, Stempniak has been walking on water in Phoenix.
He has points in every game so far. Check out this stat line.
Seven games played, seven goals, two assists, plus-nine rating, all while playing about 14 minutes a game.
We'll see if he can keep up the torrid production, but either way, the Coyotes look to have an absolute steal of a player that won't just help in the short term, but in the playoffs as well.
Grade: A. The Coyotes got the bargain of the trading deadline and even if Stempniak doesn't score another goal this season, his first seven games have made the deal worth it and then some.
1. Anaheim acquires Lubomir Visnovsky from Edmonton
Price: D Ryan Whitney and his absolutely enormous contract.
In a bit of a surprising move, the Ducks made a move at the last possible second and shipped out defenseman Ryan Whitney. The 26 year old was signed until 2013 but the Ducks felt they needed to go in a different direction, as Whitney was too slow for their liking and not producing enough for the money.
So they swap the American for veteran Lubomir Visnovsky, and couldn't be happier. Visnovsky costs a good deal more in the present, but he too is signed until 2013 and has already paid off in a big way. He is playing huge minutes on the blue line and has scored three times already.
He also provides another weapon on a power play that needs to turn it around quickly. But luckily for the Ducks, the deal is fantastic whether they make the playoffs or not. When Scott Niedermayer retires, a replacement is already there.
Grade: A+. Whitney obviously wasn't fitting in real well in Anaheim and Ducks GM Bob Murray decided to grab Visnovsky. The Slovakian has already fit in better than Whitney ever did and Murray is looking like an absolute genius.